Scientists from the Salk Institute may have discovered a “fountain of youth” while on a quest to fight Alzheimer’s disease. The potential wonder drug is called J147 and, according to the researchers, this new body of research published in the journal Aging, is expanding on previous developments and findings in which J147 targets Alzheimer’s number one risk factor—old age.
In the new study, scientists explored the effects of the drug on a breed of mice that ages rapidly and experience a version of dementia that closely resembles how we’re impacted by the age-related disorder. In all, there were three groups of mice total: One was young, another set was old, and the third was old, but fed J147 as they aged.
Using a comprehensive set of analyses to measure gene expression in the brain, as well as over 500 small molecules involved with blood and brain metabolism, the researchers were able to examine the how the three groups of rapidly aging mice fared.
Overall, the J147-treated mice performed better on memory and cognition tests, and “displayed more robust motor movements,” according to the press release. They exhibited healthier physiological features (AKA, they looked younger!) and strengthened blood vessels; J147 actually prevented the leakage of blood from microvessels in the mice’s brains relative to Alzheimer’s disease. And the treated mice even had the metabolism and gene expression similar to those of young mice (i.e. they showed increased energy metabolism, reduced brain inflammation, and lower levels of oxidized fatty acids in the brain).
Though the drug has only been tested on mice thus far, the results are impressive nonetheless. And that’s huge news since, ranked as the third leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease affects more than five million Americans.
The next step? Human trials, which will begin next year. “If proven safe and effective for Alzheimer’s, the apparent anti-aging effect of J147 would be a welcome benefit,” said David Schubert, senior study author.